around the world tour in 2023 visits bhutan, cambodia, jordan, japan, spain, and peru

Around the World Tour

Japan  · Cambodia · Bhutan · Jordan  · Spain · Peru

with optional Easter Island extension

April 3-29, 2023

JAPAN  Kyoto · Cherry Blossom Season

CAMBODIA   Angkor Wat · Siem Reap

BHUTAN   Paro · Thimpu · Tiger’s Nest

JORDAN   Petra · The Dead Sea · Wadi Rum

SPAIN   Madrid · World-class Food & Art

PERU  Machu Picchu · Sacred Valley · Cusco

EASTER ISLAND  Optional extension

If you’ve already traveled to some of these locations, let us customize a regional side adventure for you! 

Limited to just 12 explorers

27-day journey around the globe

All-inclusive price of $22,999

 

Carbon fund 2021 partnerOur Carbon Offset Commitment

We offset each of our journeys three times over, including your flights from and back to your home airport. We are committed to sequestering more carbon than these journeys produce, partnering with trustworthy companies and selecting high-quality, impactful, and community-building projects. Please click here to learn more about our Climate Positive commitment. 

Angkor Wat

Petra

Dead Sea

Machu Picchu

Cusco

Kyoto

Bhutan

Easter Island extension

Madrid

Overnight in Dubai

Overnight in Bangkok

Itinerary at a Glance

You can click on the location name to be taken to that part of the daily itinerary.

April 3   Your Around the World vacation officially starts this evening in Kyoto, Japan. We can help you arrange an earlier arrival, if you wish.

April 4–6    Kyoto is the cultural center of Japan & a city of 1,600 Buddhist temples. What’s more–it’s cherry blossom season! We’ll explore the gardens and temples & the iconic vermillion torii gates at Fushimi Inari. 

April 7–9    Discover the ancient beauty of Siem Reap, Cambodia’s ruins as we explore Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm & more. Then, enjoy the modern side of downtown Siem Reap with a dazzling array of shops and cafes.

April 10   Be charmed by Bangkok in a brief layover; you can choose to relax in the hotel (did someone say Thai massage?) or venture into town for an afternoon of delicious food and sites.

April 11–14   Discover the Last Shangri-La, Bhutan, as we ascend to the iconic Tiger’s Nest Monastery (Paro Taktsang), visit a local farm, and tour historic dzongs.

April 15   Choose to rest or explore during our brief layover in Dubai, home to thrilling sites such as the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.  

April 16–20    We think you’ll enjoy every minute in Jordan! Lay your eyes on the rose-red ruins of the ancient city of Petra, carved directly into sandstone. We’ll also pay a visit to the Roman ruins of Jerash, spend a night in the red sands of the Wadi Rum desert, and cap off our stay with a float in the Dead Sea.

April 21–23   Be dazzled by Madrid, Spain; revel in this cosmopolitan city’s impeccable museums and world-class cuisine, and don’t forget about flamenco! We’ll explore the countryside and visit biodynamic vineyards and artisanal cheesemakers. 

April 24–29   Journey to Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and Cusco and discover the mysterious beauty of these ancient Incan vestiges. 

Trip Extension, April 29–May 4  Extend your stay and join us in Easter Island, home to the mysterious moai statues and a rugged beauty you won’t soon forget.

You can click on any of the topics below to be taken to that section.

Why should I take an Around the World tour?

A trip of this scope might seem ambitious at first, but it’s a delightful & efficient way to see some of the most iconic spots on the planet.

  • The around-the-world route produces less carbon than taking individual plane trips to and from each of these sites on individual trips.
  • Our planning expertise and on-site guidance saves you untold hours (and hours and hours) of research to plan trips to these sites.
  • If you typically like to spend more time in one place abroad, this is a perfect way to scope out new areas you may wish to return to.
  • It saves money compared to 6 separate trips to all of these destinations.
  • After being grounded for so long during the pandemic, this is a perfect reintroduction to the beauty of the world around us!

Our 2023 Around the World journey is completely in line with our mission: to maximize the greatest good for the greatest number, including our guests, our travel partners, and the local community. The international travel community was hit incredibly hard during the pandemic shutdowns and we want to help our local guides just as much as we want to help you explore this planet. It’s a win-win!

Why is this the best Around the World trip?

We wanted to take the concept of an Around the World trip and create one that is accessible to anyone keen on such a journey. Most Around the World vacations cost between $100,000 and $160,000+ and usually take between 50 and 80+ guests. That’s a lot of money and a lot of people! These are lovely trips, no doubt, but we think they’re a little out of reach for most of us.

We have limited our small group to 4 – 12 guests for $22,999–

a much smaller group at a much lower price, imagine that!

Using creative planning, commercial flights (as opposed to private jets), and our huge mental Rolodex of resources, we create brilliant, fully escorted, all-inclusive Around the World trips for a fraction of the cost. We lead our latest 28-day Around the World journey in October 2018, touring 11 fascinated (and fascinating!) guests through 9 beautiful countries.

We believe world travel is necessary for personal growth, empathy, and empowerment, and we’re dedicated to making it as financially accessible as possible.

 

Why should I go Around the World with you?

We (Lauren & BJ) left our home in the U.S. more than 8 years ago to focus full-time on creating the best small tour company humanly possible. In those years we have explored the most interesting destinations, met the most talented local guides, and learned the most useful tips for a safe and comfortable journey, all to help curious, engaged people like you discover more about the planet they live on.

Because we live on the road, we know firsthand what it takes to make you comfortable while on tour. We design and manage every single aspect of the journey, from the initial itinerary planning to the farewell dinner, resulting in the seamless experiences we’re known for.

 

Who is this Journey for?

This journey is perfect for solo adventurers, couples, or groups of friends wanting to experience the time of their lives together!

We find that many of our guests enjoy marking major life transitions with a trip of this nature: birthdays, retirements, or commemorating the life of a loved one that has passed.

For our jet-setting couples, this is a perfect way to celebrate an anniversary, honeymoon, or a recently emptied nest!

This trip is perfect for those who have been interested in an Around the World journey but were put off by the prices and high guest maximums (50 to 80!) that other companies offer.

This itinerary is ideal for those that want to take advantage of our experience, expertise, and connections, who don’t have the time nor local resources to research and arrange the countless details that go into a trip of this magnitude.

You’ll quickly discover that your fellow travelers are as curious and enthusiastic as yourself; no matter if you arrive with a travel buddy or not, you’ll come away from this journey with some new friends and treasured lifelong memories.

Testimonials from our 2018 Around the World guests

Lauren and BJ are excellent tour guides, organizers, planners, and genuinely good people. Traveling with them is like being “held” in a safe space yet with plenty of opportunities to spread your wings. It’s the best of both worlds in that you are sure of seeing the sites but with cultural knowledge that makes each location memorable. Their pre-trip previewing and work to secure excellent local guides really makes their trips stand out from other group travel that I have experienced. You absolutely couldn’t travel with more thoughtful and caring people who want to offer you the best of everything. It’s more than a job for them and it shows in their kindness and willingness to go the extra mile.  ~C.M.

This trip far exceeded anything I could have imagined. The choices of where to stay, where to eat, and what to see, were the result of BJ and Lauren’s commitment to finding authentic, meaningful, experiences in every location. The trip was filled with small (and large) details that made the trip easy, fun, interesting, exciting and challenging. I LOVED this trip…and I LOVE RetreaTours!   ~N.S.

You start out curious, hoping to see iconic sights. You end up feeling more connected to and understanding of parts of the world you were barely aware of. You feel more nurtured and cared for by your trip organizers than you could have ever hoped for….you feel like you have a new family AND you laugh a lot! You will never regret having committed to this experience of a lifetime. ~A.B.

BJ and Lauren did an excellent job in hosting our tour, managing air flights, lodging, meals, guides and shepherding everyone through all situations. In addition, they were of great help in assisting with our extension to the Galapagos Islands. Would highly recommend them as a tour company. They specialize in small group tours which is the only way to travel. Very special people! It was our second trip with them and both were great. They made you feel as family. ~C.S.

This was a trip of a lifetime, filled with new experiences, stunning sights, delicious–and sometimes strange–food to taste, lovely people in every country with whom to interact. If you have a bucket list, this trip will check off many of those places–and you will want to return again to some of them to dig in deeper. BJ and Lauren are the consummate trip leaders, providing an almost seamless, and always enjoyable, educational, and really fun journey. In every country they curated the most wonderful hotels, sites to visit, restaurants to try out, and always brought in an expert guide from whatever place we were visiting to further explain the culture, the historical significance, the foods, and the customs. This trip opened my eyes to all that and so much more. I would HIGHLY recommend signing up for a trip with them–don’t hesitate–just do it! You won’t be sorry.  ~C.R.

Thank you for every thoughtful, researched, beta-tested detail that made it a unique and incredible ‘RetreaTour.’ You are an amazing team. I never felt like I had hired you to guide me. Rather, it often felt like I was along on your personal vacation just joining you for the great trip you were taking! ~M.C.

We invite you to click here and read more testimonials from our amazing guests!

Please watch our 2018 RTW journey testimonial video below!

Kyoto, Japan

April 3–6

Konnichiwa & welcome to Japan! We’ll begin our journey together in Kyoto. Kyoto, with its 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, is Japan’s cultural center. The city was the capital of Japan from 794 to 1868, and was spared in World War II due to the U.S. Secretary of War’s fond memories of Kyoto, which had been his honeymoon destination. Because of this, many priceless ancient temple structures and artifacts survived.

Our hotel is centrally located in the Kawaramachi Sanjo area of Kyoto, allowing for plenty of exploration. Kyoto is the heart of Japan’s geisha culture, and we’re just minutes from the historic Geisha district, Gion, as well as the famous fresh food market street at Nishiki Market

We’ll explore the iconic vermillion torii gates of Fushimi Inari. Established in its current spot in the year 816 C.E., this Shinto shrine is dedicated to the deity of rice, Inari. The site’s higher trails provide a beautiful overview of the city.

Buddhism has been practiced in Japan since the mid-6th century, when it was introduced by Korean monks. One temple highlight of our journey will be Sanjūsangen-dō temple with its breathtaking Thousand-Armed Kannon (also known as Avalokitesvara). Completed in 1164, this temple also houses one thousand life-size figures of the Thousand Armed Kannon, standing in rows on both sides of the main statue. 

You’ll have the opportunity to practice Zen meditation with a monk and to ask him questions about the practice of Zen. We’ll also experience a classic tea ceremony.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

April 7–9

Choum reap suor!We’ll arrive in the beautiful Kingdom of Cambodia on April 7. Here in Siem Reap, the Khmer Empire created what was the world’s largest civilization in the 12th century. The most famous relic of this civilization–featured today on Cambodia’s flag–is Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. During our time in Siem Reap, we’ll visit Angkor Wat as the sun rises behind its iconic peaks; afterward we’ll wander its mesmerizing bas-relief lined hallways.

However, Siem Reap is so much more than Angkor Wat. This area is home to loads of gorgeous temple ruins, many being slowly reclaimed by nature (including the picturesque Ta Prohm). We’ll explore Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Kingdom, along with its many temples and terraces. Bayon temple is a favorite of ours, featuring 172 large-scale serenely smiling faces wherever you look.

Angkor…is one of the most important archaeological sites of Southeast Asia. [It] is a major site exemplifying cultural, religious and symbolic values, as well as containing high architectural, archaeological and artistic significance. —UNESCO

We’ll spend our mornings here exploring temples with our expert Khmer guide who was a Buddhist monk for 16 years. We can even visit a functioning local wat (temple) to see how modern-day Khmer Buddhism is practiced. In the evenings you can explore the festive nightlife of Siem Reap, a short walk (or even shorter tuk-tuk ride) from our hotel. You can sample local Khmer cuisine like fish amok or enjoy one of the many international restaurants along Pub Street. If you want to stay closer to home, our hotel has a stellar happy hour on its rooftop deck!

We’ll cap off our time in Angkor with a sunset boat ride & celebratory drinks on the moat of Angkor Thom.

Overnight in

Bangkok, Thailand

Sawasdee! Welcome to Thailand! We’ll use Bangkok as a stepping stone to Bhutan, arriving in Bangkok around noon on the 10th and leaving the next morning.  You can take this opportunity to rest, take advantage of the hotel spa & a Thai massage, catch-up on postcards or a nap, or take an afternoon tour of the city. Perhaps you’d like to eat dinner on the Chao Phraya River and watch the sun set beyond Wat Arun (“Temple of Dawn”) or see the ornate stupas at Wat Po. 

 

Paro & Thimpu, Bhutan

April 11–14

Kuzuzangpo la!Although it’s well-known and well-loved by travelers, the Kingdom of Bhutan still feels like a secret destination. Bhutan has never been colonized, and it retains a strong sense of identity and national pride to this day. In the 1970’s, this Buddhist nation developed a concept called “Gross National Happiness,” a way to chart development and progress in a more holistic way than the Gross Domestic Product.

We’ll arrive in Paro and enjoy a farm home visit and an outstanding home-cooked meal. The Bhutanese national dish, ema datsi, is a spicy chili and cheese concoction that you can sample if you dare!  

We’ll tour the sites in Paro and Thimphu–the only national capital city in the world without a single stoplight. We’ll visit the impressive dzong fortresses and the colorful Buddhist temples; Bhutan’s Vajrayana Buddhism looks much different than the Theravada Buddhism of Cambodia and Thailand. 

On our last morning, we’ll get an early start and lay eyes on the iconic Taksang monastery, or Tiger’s Nest, the holiest site in Bhutan. This picturesque complex hugs a cliff wall 3,000 feet above the valley floor (for a total altitude of 10,240 feet). It’s a ~2 hour ascent, but we’ll take it slow and steady as we hike up, enjoying the fresh forest air around us. If you like, you can even ride a pony part of the way to the top.

Visit Bhutan during an Around the World trip

Overnight in

Dubai, UAE

As-salam alaykum! On April 15th, we’ll arrive in Dubai and we’ll depart for Jordan the next morning. You can truly choose your own adventure in Dubai! Whether you want to rest in our comfortable hotel or hit the town, we can help you decide on some options in this lively city. Perhaps you’d like to lay eyes on the tallest building on the planet, the Burj Khalifa, or take in a light show at the Dubai Fountain at its base. Head into the desert, go shopping, take a city tour–the sky’s the limit (but not really the limit, as you can also take a helicopter tour!) Art lovers can even head to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, less than a 2-hour drive away.

Petra, Wadi Rum & The Dead Sea, Jordan

April 16–20

Marḥaba —welcome to Jordan! We’ll arrive in Amman, Jordan mid-afternoon and drive immediately to the stunning archaeological site of Jerash (~1 hour away). Jerash’s first settlement was in 7500 BCE, but it’s the Greco-Roman ruins that put this city on the map. 

We’ll continue on to Petra late this afternoon and settle into our guesthouse, mere steps away from Petra’s main entrance and the only one on the grounds of the site. In fact, we’re so close to Petra that our accommodation boasts a “cave bar” built of stonework from Nabatean times. Who were the Nabateans? Glad you asked!

The Nabateans were a nomadic Arabic tribe that eventually settled in pockets around the Middle East, including Jordan. They established Petra as their capital as early as the 5th century BCE. The Nabateans carved the features of Petra into the rose-colored sandstone mountains. Petra became a flourishing trade hub and a site that UNESCO has described as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage.” This site is so much more than the famous facade of the “Treasury” you may have seen in Indiana Jones–the entirety of Petra spans 102 square miles! You’ll appreciate the efforts of the Nabateans even more when you learn that everything that has been excavated so far accounts for less than 15% of the actual site.

A rose-red city half as old as time — John William Burgon, from his poem Petra

We’ll explore Petra with an expert guide, entering through a picturesque canyon (the Siq) and into the carved city that once housed between 20,000 and 30,000 people. You can continue to explore on your own in the afternoon, perhaps taking the scenic hike up to the “Monastery,” one of the most impressive structures in all of Petra. A few more minutes of walking beyond the Monastery brings you to an overlook that reveals the expanse of the Wadi Arabah desert. You’ll also have the opportunity, if you wish, to experience “Petra by Night,” where the facade of the Treasury is lit up by hundreds of candles.

Our next stop is the Wadi Rum desert, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This red desert has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with many cultures–including the Nabataeans–leaving their mark in the form of petroglyphs. Wadi Rum may be best known for its connection with British officer T. E. Lawrence (that is, “Lawrence of Arabia”). In fact, it was the filming of Lawrence of Arabia in 1962 that kick-started Jordan’s tourism industry. The desert’s arresting landscape has been used in many films as an alien backdrop, from The Martian and Prometheus to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and even the 2021 version of Dune. You’ll get a front-row seat (well, bed) tonight to the star show from your very own bubble tent—and don’t worry, it’s almost a new moon so the stars will be in their glory!

On the 19th we’ll drive directly to our home base on the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is a world wonder in its own right, the lowest point on Earth at -1412 feet / -430.5 m below sea level. This is the world’s deepest hypersaline lake at 1,000 feet deep. It has long been used as a “health resort,” dating back to Biblical times.

You’ll get to experience the otherworldly sensation of floating high on top of these salty waters for yourself if you wish! We’ll relax seaside and watch the sun set over this endangered treasure; the Dead Sea’s surface level is dropping 3 feet a year due to increased water demand and dams being built upstream by neighboring countries.

On April 20th you can choose to relax by the seaside (and spa) or take a tour of surrounding Biblical sites, including Mt. Nebo (said to be Moses’ last stop on the Exodus from Egypt) or Jesus’ baptism site along the Jordan River.

Madrid, Spain

April 21–23

Buenas días! Welcome to Spain’s capital, home to rich delights for all the senses!

Madrid will unfold before you our first night with a tapas walk through the historic city center. Get acquainted with the “greatest hits” of Madrid’s world-class cuisine as our local guide walks us through five centuries of local history. 

On the 22nd we’ll unleash a feast for your eyes in the Prado Museum, considered to be among the greatest museums of art, with the best collection of artworks by Goya, Velázquez, El Greco, Rubens, Titian & Hieronymus Bosch. After a traditional lunch of Spanish fare paired with traditional wines, you’ll have the afternoon to rest or explore independently with tips from our guide. Tonight we’ll go behind the scenes and learn about the iconic flamenco dance! A local expert will fill us in on the history of this tradition before we experience the show.  

On Sunday the 23rd we’ll head out of the city and into the verdant foothills of the Gredos mountains. We’ll spend the day behind the scenes at local biodynamic vineyards, meeting the winemakers and tasting their organic wines. You can’t have wine without cheese, though! We’ll visit a small, family-run cheese shop and see (and taste) how the magic is made. 

Visit Madrid on an Around the World trip

Machu Picchu & Cusco, Peru

April 24–29

Bienvenidos a Peru! On the morning of April 24th we’ll take a daytime flight to Lima, Peru. The transatlantic flight is 11.5 hours (although time zone-wise, Lima is 6 hours earlier than Madrid). We’ll arrive in Lima in the evening and go straight to our comfortable hotel to rest. Tomorrow morning we’ll start our journey to Machu Picchu!

We’ll take a morning flight to Cusco (1.25 hours), enjoy a scenic drive through the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo, and board a train to Machu Picchu Pueblo (the town formerly known as Aguas Calientes). Our two-hour train ride is a gorgeous introduction to the Andes mountains, and we ride along the Urubamba river for much of the time. Tonight we stay in the quaint town of Machu Picchu Pueblo, readying ourselves for our sunrise trip to Machu Picchu.

After seeing the ruins at Machu Picchu, the fabulous cultures of antiquity seemed to be made of cardboard, papier-mâché…— Pablo Neruda

Peru has been inhabited since 9,000 BCE and has had complex societies since 3000 BCE. The Incas were an immensely powerful state in the 15th century; the crown jewel in the Incan empire was, of course, Machu Picchu. On the morning of April 26th, we’ll have a guided tour of Machu Picchu, along with independent exploration time. Sunrise is a palpably special time at these ruins, as the morning fog parts to reveal what had been hidden for hundreds of years. The structures themselves are impressive, but they are closely rivaled by the stunning Andean mountain landscape that kept them a secret for centuries. 

On the 27th we’ll take the train back to Cusco. There is a certain charm to Cusco that we just can’t get enough of! This UNESCO World Heritage city was the capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th to 16th century, and it is South America’s oldest continuously inhabited city. The blend of the ancient Incan foundations, topped with the ornate relics of the Spanish invasion and colonization, make this city a marvel at every turn. It’s no wonder that the Constitution of Peru designated Cusco as the country’s Historical Capital. We’ll take a tour of Cusco and the surrounding area on April 28th. Then, we’ll share one final dinner together and reflect on our epic Around the World journey together! We may have started in Kyoto as strangers, but we close in Cusco as a friends, brought together in our shared wonderment at this amazing world we live in.

Your Around the World journey officially finishes after breakfast on April 29th.  But, wait, there is so much more to see! We can help you decide on a custom trip extension or we can continue on together to Easter Island. Please read about our Easter Island extension below. 

Easter Island Extension

April 29–May 4

Easter Island could be the perfect cherry on top of a delicious Around the World adventure! With a minimum of 4 guests (and maximum of 12), BJ and Lauren will join you and personally escort you around the island by private vehicle; otherwise, we can help arrange a solo itinerary for you on the island.

Santiago, Chile is an easy flight from Cusco and is the gateway to Easter Island. If you choose to stay on, we’ll spend April 29th in Santiago (hotel night included), and early on the 30th we’ll start our journey to Easter Island with a 5-hour flight.

We have carefully crafted the best itinerary to explore Easter Island, taking into account the ideal lighting for photos and the proper timing to avoid the crowds & tourist buses. We’ll be renting our own vehicle to show you around; this way we can all decide how long to stay in a spot and when to move on. Over the next three and a half days, we’ll show you what makes this island truly magical. (You might ask, is three and a half days enough time? We promise it is, without feeling rushed, although you can certainly stay on in Easter Island, if you wish!)

Easter Island is one of the most remote places on the planet. Set in the South Pacific, it is almost 2,200 miles from mainland Chile and more than 1,200 miles away from the next inhabited island. Called Rapa Nui in the native language, this 63-square-mile (163 km²) island has around 7,500 inhabitants and is considered a special territory of Chile.

Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen first encountered the island on April 5, 1722–you guessed it, Easter Sunday. Of course, by then, this island had long been populated–since the 6th to 8th century CE, it’s estimated. Our first encounter with the island will be landing on a giant airstrip built by NASA for the U.S. Space Shuttle program as an emergency landing spot.

Chances are that, even if you know nothing else about Easter Island, you recognize its iconic statues, or what some people refer to as “the big heads.” You might be surprised to know they’re not just heads! These statues, called “moai” (MOE-eye), are full length, although the exaggerated heads do make up one-quarter to one-third of the statues’ total heights. The only place you really see the famous “heads” is at the quarry, where hundreds of full-length but unfinished moai were abandoned in a standing position, only to be buried up to their necks over the years. The rest of the moai around the island had been placed carefully on top of ceremonial platforms, only to be knocked over by intertribal warfare & earthquakes.

We’ll visit these ceremonial ahu platforms around the island, as well as the quarry where the statues were painstakingly carved. There is a small but fascinating museum we’ll visit early our first afternoon to give you a foundation for further exploration of the island. Don’t worry, there will be free time for you to explore the charming town of Hanga Roa. You can even take a short walk along the coast to Ahu Tahai for that postcard sunset silhouette shot. 

On May 4th we’ll say goodbye to Easter Island and make our way back to Santiago, Chile where the trip ends…or your next adventure begins!

Interested? Have Questions?

Please click on the green boxes to expand them.

Price, Inclusions & Payment

The trip cost is $22,999 USD (double-occupancy price) when you register before October 1, 2022.  Registration after October 1, 2022 will cost $23,999.

Our Easter Island extension is priced separately; please see the next section for information about that journey.

If you prefer to have your own room, the single supplement is $1999 and will be added to your last payment. (Click here to understand why this single supplement is necessary). Please note that we cannot guarantee you a roommate for this trip, and if you room alone, you may be responsible for the single supplement.

Payment Plan & Dates

  • A $2999 deposit holds your space
  • The second installment of $4750 is due June 1, 2022
  • The third installment of $4750 is due August 1, 2022
  • The fourth installment of $4750 is due October 1, 2022
  • The balance is due December 1, 2022
    • Note: If you would like to make smaller, more frequent payments, we can accommodate that!

Payment types

Payments are accepted by credit or debit card (processed via PayPal, but you do not need a PayPal account), check, bank wire, or TransferWise for our guests that reside out the U.S.  We will send invoices by email at least 2 weeks before each due date by email (via PayPal).

 

Price Includes

  • All breakfasts, lunches, and dinners (except 1), starting with dinner on April 3 through the morning of April 29th
  • Beverages at mealtimes (water, tea, coffee, soda)
  • All accommodation
  • All transportation within each country (except airport transfer to Kyoto)
  • All flights between countries on the tour (except your flight to Japan and back home from South America)
  • All sites entrance fees
  • All local guide fees and tips
  • Triple carbon offsetting for trip
  • Jordan visa
  • Bhutan visa
  • Souvenir photo book of journey and online to access to all of our trip photos

Price does not include

  • International airfare to Kyoto, Japan or from Cusco, Peru (although we can and will be more than happy to help you decide on arrangements)
  • Airport transportation to Kyoto
  • Alcohol, specialty drinks (specialty coffee drinks, mocktails, etc)
  • Dinner in Dubai
  • Travel medical insurance (required)
  • Cambodian visa (~$36 USD)

Cancellation Policy

You can see our full cancellation policy in our contract when registration opens shortly.

 

NOTE: 

  • A minimum of 4 guests must register in order for this trip to take place. We will hold your deposit & payments until the minimum number of guests have signed up. Please do not purchase any airfare until you get the go-ahead from us that we’ve reached our minimum number of participants.
  • If the minimum number of guests have not signed up 90 days prior to the departure date, we’ll give you the option to transfer your reservation to another tour or fully refund your money, including the deposit.
Easter Island Extension Price, Inclusions & Payment

Do you want to continue on to Easter Island after our worldwide adventure? Great! With a minimum of 4 guests (and a maximum of 12 guests), BJ and Lauren will join you and personally show you their favorite spots on Rapa Nui.

The Easter Island extension (April 29–May 4, 2023) is $1750 USD (single supplement of $499). The deposit is $500 and the balance is due by December 1, 2022.

Includes

  • Hotel night in Santiago, Chile on April 29
  • 4 hotel nights on Easter Island
  • Private transportation to sites on Easter Island
  • All breakfasts and lunches on Easter Island
  • Online photo album
  • Triple carbon offsetting

Not included

  • Airfare between Santiago and Easter Island (*please see note below)
  • Entrance to Rapa Nui National Park  (~$80)
  • Dinners on Easter Island
  • Lunch and dinner on April 29 (transit from Cusco to Santiago, Chile)
  • Travel insurance
  • Alcohol

*This airfare typically runs around $650 USD, but it can be as low as $350 and as high as $1000. We suggest, as soon we tell you we have reached our minimum, that you purchase these flights.

This website and corresponding app is a great resource for learning more about Easter Island.

Here is the CDC’s Easter Island-specific ‘Travelers’ Health’ page. Malaria is not endemic to Easter Island.

Our Carbon Offset Commitment

Carbon fund 2021 partner

We are committed to carbon offsetting your entire journey—not only while you’re on tour with us, but the flights from and to your home. What’s more, we provide a TRIPLE carbon offset, effectively sequestering three times the carbon that this trip would produce.

We have a lot to say about this subject and we’d love for you to learn more over at RetreaTours.com/ClimatePositive.

Passport & Visa Requirements

Passport

Your passport will need to be valid until at least October 27, 2023 (6 months from the end of the scheduled trip). In addition, you’ll need at least 8 blank pages in your passport to accommodate your visas and stamps and still allow for the 2 blank pages required upon arrival in Peru.

Visas

This information is for U.S. citizens only; please check your country’s own official government website for details or ask us and we can help!

The only visa you will need to apply for beforehand is your Cambodia visa, which will cost ~$36 USD.  Your visas for Bhutan and Jordan are included in the price of the trip.

About Travel Insurance

We require that each guest carries travel insurance that covers emergency medical treatment and emergency evacuation and repatriation. 

We highly suggest trip cancellation insurance, as well, as you never know what obstacles life can toss at you leading up to a trip. However, we do not require this coverage, as we understand it can increase premiums dramatically. Please familiarize yourself with our Around the World journey guest cancellation policy (coming shortly).

You may wish to consider a “Cancel for Any Reason” policy if that makes you feel more comfortable.

We ask that you carefully consider your choice of travel insurance. What works for some people may not work for others, particularly if you have any pre-existing conditions. Please do take the time to consider the best policy for your individual needs.

Please see RetreaTours.com/travel-insurance for some ideas of where to start your search!

About the Flights

Information about flight lengths & upgrading to Business Class, plus flights to Japan and from Peru

Air travel has made Around the World adventures much more pleasant & efficient than the infamous 80-day trip posited by Jules Verne.

We will be taking commercial flights for each leg of this trip. They have been very specifically chosen to be the most comfortable way of getting from one location to the next at the most reasonable times of day.

Flight lengths, including layovers:

  • These times will be posted when they are official. Stay tuned!

What about upgrading flights to Business Class?

If you would like the option to upgrade any of your flights to Business Class, we can help arrange that and you would pay only the exact amount over the budgeted economy flight option. We’ll let you know about those prices a bit closer to the journey. 

Flights to Japan / home from Peru (or Chile)

As we get a bit closer to the trip we will post some popular options here, but we are always available for any specific flight itinerary questions.

Suggested Fitness Requirements

A journey of this scope takes a lot of stamina, but we’ve designed this trip specifically so that you can opt to have a rest day in each city (and of course, ALL activities are optional).

It will be a rare case that you will have to stand on your feet for extended periods of time. However, as a guideline, you’ll want to feel comfortable walking for 2-3 miles unassisted at a time. It will most likely not happen that we will ever walk a straight 2-3 miles, but that is a safe guideline to follow if you are wondering about your fitness levels.

Many of these sites include stairs; as a guideline, please feel comfortable climbing 4 flights of stairs at a time (but at your own pace).

Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan and Machu Picchu in Peru are exceptions to the above recommendations. Please see the notes about those sites below.

If you intend on attending all offerings on the itinerary, you will be participating in 5-8 hours of activity each day (although activity does not mean difficult physical activity, just that we are out of our accommodation and exploring).

The key here is to feel comfortable going at your own pace and knowing your limits.

Here are some location-specific notes for you. These photos and descriptions are of the most difficult areas and are presented to inform you, not scare you! Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any specific concerns.

Kyoto

 Steps at Fushimi Inari

If you wish to fully explore the trails at Fushimi Inari, they include series of steps (intermixed with flat areas). There are plenty of gorgeous flat areas near the entrance if you don’t wish to climb up the hill.

 

Siem Reap

 Wooden stairs over worn stone steps at Angkor Wat

The worn stone steps at Angkor Wat (and other temples) have new wooden steps placed over them, although the shorter sets do not feature handrails. Some temples still have worn stone steps if you wish to explore further, but all main sites have more modern wooden steps. The stairs into and out of the central portion of Angkor Wat (pictured here, on the right) are steep but have a handrail. That portion is completely optional, as well.

 

Bhutan

 Different terrain on the hike to Tiger's Nest

The most physically challenging portion of this trip (which is totally optional) is making the hike up to Tiger’s Nest. The walk itself is a ~4-mile round trip in total, with an elevation gain of 1,700 feet (518 m), although you can get lovely views of the cliffside monastery without going all the way there.

The path is, for the most part, wide and sandy, with some parts being a bit more rocky. You are able to take a pony almost halfway up if you choose, and there is a delightful tea house halfway up if you choose to stay there to soak in the scenery. The final push to the actual monastery includes ~700 stone steps–first down and then back up (photo in the upper righthand corner). Many of our guests choose not to go all the way to the actual structure and instead enjoy the iconic view from the beginning of the stairs.

It may sound intimidating, but Bhutanese elders in sandals and toddlers in Crocs regularly pass me by on the trail, so most likely it is totally within your reach! In addition, it’s the same way up and down (as opposed to a circuit), so you can gauge for far you want to go up.

 

Jordan

 Terrain through the Siq and a sample of the stairs up to the Monastery

The walk into Petra is through a lovely canyon (the Siq) and is a 1.2-mile (2 km) walk to reach the Treasury (the most iconic spot). It is possible to take a horse cart, but the walk itself is actually quite interesting and you can take it slowly.

Petra extends beyond the Treasury and you can see as much or as little as you like. There is a hike to a more remote part of Petra called “The Monastery,” which is a 40-60 minute walk each way (photo on the right). When you read about it online it sounds like a grueling trek, but it’s honestly pretty straight-forward!

If you wish to return to the Treasury for “Petra by Night,” the only option is to walk from the entrance.

 

Madrid

We will be taking food and art tours which will require walking and standing for an extended period, broken up occasionally during the eating portion of the tour.

 

Machu Picchu

 Examples of the stone steps at Machu Picchu

We take a bus up the hill from Machu Picchu Pueblo to the site itself; from the entrance point, it’s an uphill walk to the famous Machu Picchu viewpoint. It’s not a difficult trail to get to this point (stairs and flat areas, ~10 minutes) and you can go at your own pace. Within the site itself, there are stone stairs which can be uneven. There is a lower trail within the site with fewer stairs.

 

Still wondering if this is the trip for you? We welcome any questions you have!

 

About Vaccinations & Malaria

There are no required vaccines on this trip. However, the CDC recommends that all travelers be up to date on their routine vaccinations. Please consult the CDC’s recommendations (or your nation’s equivalent) and confer with your physician or local travel doctor to make the best decision for yourself.

Here are links to CDC recommendations for:

We are also big fans of the Scottish NHS site’s recommendations (click here).

About Malaria

Here are links to the Scottish NHS’s malaria maps of each country (note that Japan, Jordan, and Spain don’t even warrant malaria maps per the NHS). We find them to be an excellent visual resource. You’ll find that our trip locations are all in the “low to no risk” sections”:

There is no vaccine for malaria, zika, or other mosquito-borne diseases, like dengue. We encourage the prevention of mosquito bites as the best solution, through the use of insect repellent and wearing long sleeves/pants at dusk and dawn. We are traveling during every country’s relatively dry season, so we do not expect mosquitos to be a problem. However, you must consult with your physician or local travel doctor to do what feels best for you.

About the Weather

Why April?

We thought seeing the cherry blossoms in Kyoto would be a great way to kick-off this journey! While one never knows about today’s ever-changing weather patterns, this was the most likely time to see them in bloom. In addition, it’s the “shoulder season” in all of our other destinations, meaning we avoid the crowds and still have pleasant weather.

Temperature

There are some significant differences between the highest average highs and the lowest averages lows, so packing layers for this trip will make it easy to enjoy any weather we encounter. The lowest average temperature at night is in Bhutan (31°F/0°C). The average lows for the rest of the trip fall between 40 and 80°F.  The average highs run between 60 and 95°F. Here are the average historic high and lows for each destination for the day we will be there: 

  • Kyoto: 45-60°F (7-16°C)
  • Siem Reap: 80-95°F (26-35°C)  Note: we will visit temples in the morning and rest during the hottest part of the day.
  • Bangkok: 80-95°F (26-35°C)  Note: we’re only here for 1 afternoon/evening
  • Bhutan: 31-58°F (0-15.5°C)
  • Dubai:  70-90°F (21-33°C)  Note: we’re only here for 1 afternoon/evening
  • Petra & The Dead Sea, Jordan: 65-88°F (18-31°C)
  • Wadi Rum, Jordan: 55-80°F (13-26°C)
  • Madrid: 45-65°F (6.5-18°C)
  • Cusco/Machu Picchu: 40-70°F (4.5-21°C)

Rainfall

We know Longfellow said, “Into each life some rain must fall,” but we try to minimize that prospect. We don’t expect any serious rain, but it is possible to catch a shower or two. Nothing a handy travel umbrella or light shell jacket can’t handle!

About Airport Lounges

For this trip we hope to provide VIP lounge access (when available) to all of our guests. These VIP lounges allow for a much more relaxed and enjoyable time at the airport and there is usually free food and drinks (including alcohol). We will be able to get 4 guests into the lounges with our Priority Pass cards. We would like to encourage other guests on the trip to get a Priority Pass card through the Citi Prestige credit card to ensure that everyone can get into the lounges; toward that end, we will give the first three guests who receive a Citi Prestige Priority Pass a $100 stipend toward the annual fee. 

Benefits of Priority Pass card

You can read all about the Priority Pass card here. To us, it has been life-changing (quite literally, considering how much we travel). Relaxing in the lounges makes air travel so much more enjoyable. On this Around the World tour, we’ll be spending a bit of time in airports so we hope this will make it more pleasant for you.

Benefits of Citi Prestige credit card

  • This is a card with some great benefits–most of all, getting a Priority Pass card that allows for 2 guests in addition to yourself.
  • Initially, this card looks to be expensive with a $495 annual fee. But, you are immediately credited $250 the first time you purchase a flight with the card (thus bringing the cost down to $200). You can also earn 50,000 miles/points if you spend $4000 in the first three months after receiving the card. You also earn 5x points/miles for spending on airfares and at restaurants. There are a slew of other great benefits ($100 credit for Global Entry; 4th night free at many hotels; etc–you can read more about the card here).
  • When you receive your card, we will give you $100 toward your fee. If you get a 2nd card for your spouse/partner who is joining on this trip, we’ll give you another $100 [a 2nd card only costs the primary cardholder $50]. The catch is that for each Priority Pass card you get, you must bring yourself and 2 guests into the lounge for free.

Here is how you would apply for this card:

  1. You would apply for the Citi Prestige credit card (here is the official link–we do not get a commission for people applying or getting the card)
  2. Once you get the card they would send you the Priority Pass card automatically; we recommend downloading the Priority Pass app on your phone.
  3. You can choose to get a 2nd card for your spouse/partner/friend who is joining on the trip.
  4. Let us know when you have the Priority Pass in hand and we’ll give you $100 for each one you get.
  5. Use your card to purchase a flight within the first year and Citi will automatically credit you $250.
  6. If you’re interested in earning miles with the card, be sure to spend $4000 in the first 3 months after receiving the card. You might want to think about using it to purchase your flight to Japan for the start of this trip.
About the Hotels

We will be staying at 4 to 5-star hotels throughout this trip. All hotels have hot water, wifi, and attached bathrooms with western-style toilets. All hotels will have air-conditioning/heating. We work tirelessly to find hotels in the absolute BEST location in each destination.

Here is a list of the hotels (or similar) we are scheduled to stay in on our journey.

 

About Money Matters

How much money should I bring?

Started at dinner on April 3rd, all of your meals (except dinner in Dubai) and transportation are covered, so you just have to gauge how much you want to spend on extras (alcohol, souvenirs, spa treatments, day tours in Dubai, etc). Before the trip begins we’ll let you know how much some of the optional activities costs.

How do I get the local currency?

When we land in a new country, we’ll give you some local pocket money to have for snack and water–that way you don’t have to worry about exchange a tiny bit of money or finding at ATM!

For any bigger purchases you make (meals out, larger souvenirs, spa treatments, etc) a credit card will be just fine. Please do set a travel notice with your bank so they know not to put a hold on your card when they see it being used abroad.

You can use an ATM to get local currency for any reason, but that typically comes with a higher fee unless you have a debit card through Charles Schwab (or a bank with similar No ATM Fee policies).

You can also exchange U.S. dollars for local currency at Currency Exchange counters or at some hotels. Depending on how much you want to exchange, we can also help with that.

About the Food

What if I don’t like the local food?

Do I have to eat ‘weird’ things?

What about my food allergies?

Let’s face it–you gotta eat. However, culinary experiences while traveling are more than just a necessity; they’re another avenue to learn and appreciate your environment. 

Now to answer your questions:

If you are interested in this trip, we’ll have a conversation that will include any food allergies or sensitivities that you list in your registration. Generally speaking, all but the most severe allergies or austere preferences will not pose any problem.

And the biggie: do you have to eat weird things? There are two answers to this question:  1)  Of course not!  and 2) What do you consider weird? One of the things you’ll learn on this Around the World adventure is that cultural “norms” vary widely, especially in the kitchen. And besides, I know several people who would make a strong case that lima beans are weird (and they are, of course, wrong ;) ). 

We don’t seek out bizarre foods “Fear Factor” style, but if an ingredient is a part of the actual local diet, we’ll often give it a try. If you are feeling adventurous, there are plenty of unique local specialties to try, from interesting fruits (mangosteen, rambutan, and the infamous durian) to insects and critters (tarantulas and grasshoppers) to regional meat favorites (guinea pig, snake, and alpaca).

If you’re not a big fan of a certain region’s cuisine, you’ll always be able to find more familiar substitutes (usually in the form of Italian food/pasta, sandwiches, pizza, and ubiquitous french fries). Even if you love the food in an area, you might still crave familiar comfort food and that is A-OK. We’ve had some of the best Italian food in the world in Southeast Asia! 

Food on this tour is designed to be FUN and you’ll never feel pressured or judged for anything you choose to eat or not eat. But we’re happy to be providing an opportunity to try the best cuisine of each region! 

Preventing Altitude Sickness

Almost all of our locations are at or around sea level (or well below sea level, in the case of the Dead Sea at 1,412 feet / 430 meters below sea level). 

Our two destinations with a high altitude are Bhutan and Peru.

Paro and Thimpu, Bhutan stand at 7,218′ and 7,656 respectively (2200m and 2333m). This is below the typical threshold of altitude sickness (8,000 ft). However, if you choose to walk up to Tiger’s Nest Monastery, you’ll reach 10,240 ft (3120m) for the brief time you’ll be there. 

Your next encounter with altitude will be in Peru. We land in Cusco (a short flight from Lima) and drive downhill immediately to catch our train to Machu Picchu. Our hotel in Machu Picchu Pueblo is at 6,700 feet (2050 m), while the ruins themselves are at 7,800 feet (2375 m). We intentionally leave Cusco and immediately drive to a lower altitude to adjust.

Cusco poses the highest overnight stay, at 11,150 feet (3400 m). After Machu Picchu, we’ll be arriving in Cusco in the late afternoon (April 27th). On April 28th we’ll take an easy tour around some Cusco sites and enjoy our farewell dinner.

Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to worsen at high altitudes, so it is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your physician. Certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor or a local travel physician.

Please read more about preventing altitude sickness over on our blog.

About the Time Differences & Jet Lag

We’re traveling around the whole world–am I going to feel jet lag every time we move to a new location?

The most challenging portion of this trip in regards to jet lag will be your initial flight to Japan (which is why, if you are able, you may choose to arrive early). 

However, the rest of your trip will include much more gentle time changes that will not be difficult. Our next big leap in time is gaining 6 hours when we fly from Madrid to Peru toward the end of the trip; however, this east-to-west flight, paired with it being a daytime flight, should make this as easy of a transition as possible.

For the most part, jet lag actually works in our favor for some of our early mornings on this trip, such as sunrise at Fushimi Inari, Angkor Wat, Petra, and Machu Picchu. We’ll embrace our inner early birds!

Time differences between our destinations

GMT stands for Greenwich Mean Time, the solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London (0° longitude).

  • Kyoto (GMT+9)
  • Siem Reap (GMT+7)  (2 hours earlier than Kyoto)
  • Bangkok (GMT+7)  (Same as Siem Reap)
  • Bhutan (GMT +6) (1 hour earlier than Bangkok/Siem Reap)
  • Dubai (GMT +4) (2 hours earlier than Bhutan)
  • Jordan (GMT+2)  (2 hours earlier than Dubai)
  • Madrid   (GMT+1)  (1 hour earlier than Jordan)
  • Peru  (GMT-5) (6 hours earlier than Madrid; Peru is the same time as Eastern Standard Time)

We will advise you on some methods to lessen jet lag as much as possible before the journey!

Packing List & Luggage Suggestion

Coming soon!

How to Stay Healthy While Traveling...Naturally!

We invite you to check out Lauren’s article about how best to stay healthy on the road and prevent common travel ailments such as traveler’s diarrhea, motion sickness, altitude sickness & more. Lauren is a Board-certified Acupuncture Physician with an extensive background in Western herbs and natural supplements, along with a passion for teaching!  

Click here or the photo below to scope it out!

 

About BJ & Lauren

BJ Graf and Lauren Rathvon at Torres del Paine. We love our tours to Patagonia!

Hi! We’re BJ & Lauren! We formally founded RetreaTours in 2012 and moved out of the U.S. in January 2013 to focus full-time on designing amazing itineraries. Living on the road has given us invaluable insight into what keeps our guests happy on tour. Have you ever found travel a bit stressful? That’s where we come in—you’re leaving all the details to us so you can fully enjoy yourself! In fact, it’s not uncommon for our guests to compare us to doting parents or admit that they feel comfortable “turning their brain off” while on tour us! 

From the moment you’re interested in a trip and reach out to us, we’re in direct personal contact with you to answer any questions you have. We can prep you as much as you want with deeply detailed orientations and FAQs, or you can show up and go along for the ride—whichever method is more your style!

While we are supported in every destination by a hand-selected team of awesome locals, we are the ones who put our heart and soul into making these experiences come alive for you. If you’d like to get to know us personally a bit better, please take a click over here. If you’re more interested in the origins and the “abouts” of the company, click over here.

Our Mission: We create itineraries that are authentic, accessible, and affecting. We craft each trip to maximize the greatest good for the greatest number, including our guests, our partners, and the local community.

Testimonials from our 2018 Around the World Guests

Here is what some of our 2018 Around the World guests want to tell you!

Lauren and BJ are excellent tour guides, organizers, planners, and genuinely good people. Traveling with them is like being “held” in a safe space yet with plenty of opportunities to spread your wings. It’s the best of both worlds in that you are sure of seeing the sites but with cultural knowledge that makes each location memorable. Their pre-trip previewing and work to secure excellent local guides really makes their trips stand out from other group travel that I have experienced. You absolutely couldn’t travel with more thoughtful and caring people who want to offer you the best of everything. It’s more than a job for them and it shows in their kindness and willingness to go the extra mile.  ~C.M.

This trip far exceeded anything I could have imagined. The choices of where to stay, where to eat, and what to see, were the result of BJ and Lauren’s commitment to finding authentic, meaningful, experiences in every location. The trip was filled with small (and large) details that made the trip easy, fun, interesting, exciting and challenging. I LOVED this trip…and I LOVE RetreaTours!   ~N.S.

You start out curious, hoping to see iconic sights. You end up feeling more connected to and understanding of parts of the world you were barely aware of. You feel more nurtured and cared for by your trip organizers than you could have ever hoped for….you feel like you have a new family AND you laugh a lot! You will never regret having committed to this experience of a lifetime. ~A.B.

BJ and Lauren did an excellent job in hosting our tour, managing air flights, lodging, meals, guides and shepherding everyone through all situations. In addition, they were of great help in assisting with our extension to the Galapagos Islands. Would highly recommend them as a tour company. They specialize in small group tours which is the only way to travel. Very special people! It was our second trip with them and both were great. They made you feel as family. ~C.S.

This was a trip of a lifetime, filled with new experiences, stunning sights, delicious–and sometimes strange–food to taste, lovely people in every country with whom to interact. If you have a bucket list, this trip will check off many of those places–and you will want to return again to some of them to dig in deeper. BJ and Lauren are the consummate trip leaders, providing an almost seamless, and always enjoyable, educational, and really fun journey. In every country they curated the most wonderful hotels, sites to visit, restaurants to try out, and always brought in an expert guide from whatever place we were visiting to further explain the culture, the historical significance, the foods, and the customs. This trip opened my eyes to all that and so much more. I would HIGHLY recommend signing up for a trip with them–don’t hesitate–just do it! You won’t be sorry.  ~C.R.

Thank you for every thoughtful, researched, beta-tested detail that made it a unique and incredible ‘RetreaTour.’ You are an amazing team. I never felt like I had hired you to guide me. Rather, it often felt like I was along on your personal vacation just joining you for the great trip you were taking! ~M.C.

Photo Album

Please click a photo to see an enlarged version; you can use your arrow keys or mouse to navigate within the album. All photos here have been taken by BJ or Lauren during their travels.

Interested? Have Questions?

Ready to Register for your Around the World Adventure?

Follow us